The Columbian Exchange

The Columbian Exchange refers to the widespread transfer of animals, plants, culture, human populations, communicable diseases, technology and ideas between the American and Afro-Eurasian hemispheres in the 15th and 16th centuries.


Tomatoes, which came to Europe from the New World (Spain), were initially valued very much in Italy mainly for their ornamental value, but from the 19th century tomato sauces became typical of Neapolitan cooking and, In general Italian foods (pasta, pizza, etc.)


Before AD 1500, potatoes were not grown outside of South America. By the 1840's Ireland was so dependent on the potato that the cause of the Great Famine was a potato disease. The potato is introduced as a Maize and Manioc crop, to the Portuguese in the 16th century.


The turkey is a native of North America ONLY. How could European settlers have brought turkeys from Europe to North America? The answer is that turkeys had already been brought from North America to Europe in the sixteenth century. The Pilgrims had already started eating a distinctly "American" food long before they left England or the Netherlands to come to Massachusetts.


European exploration of tropical areas was aided by the New World discovery of quinine the first effective treatment for malaria. Europeans suffered from this disease, new to them, but some indigenous populations had developed at least partial resistance to it. In Africa, resistance to malaria has been associated with other genetic changes among sub-Saharan Africans and their descendants that can cause sickle cell.......anemia. A variety of domesticated animals and infectious diseases jumped to humans, such as smallpox were surprisingly, more numerous in the Old World than in the New World.


Pigs were a main source of food for the colonists of the new world. Also, their bones were used in making tools and their brittle hairs were used in making brushes. (They had brushes?...... surprisingly, yes.)